I have always thought of myself as a bad gift giver. I struggled to personalize my gifts and always ended up browsing the fuzzy socks in Target just to give something. I recently realized most of this struggle came down to a difference in love languages. I’ve never understood gift giving as an expression of love, so I never channeled love into my gift browsing. According to a theory by Gary Chapman in his book, “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate”, there are five ways in which people give and receive love: quality time, acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation, and gift giving. This holiday season, I’m applying Chapman’s theory to the gift giving process. Here is a gift guide by love language to best combat your terrible gift-giving track record!
- Quality Time
People who receive love through quality time (me!) feel that love ”centers around togetherness. It’s all about expressing your love and affection with your undivided attention.” How can you channel this into a gift for someone who values quality time? Think of ways you can enjoy the present together. A small weekend getaway, concert tickets, or a local class could speak volumes about your love for this gift recipient. Additionally, purchasing gifts that suggest time together is always a good idea! This could include board games or supplies to pick up a hobby together. Remember – for these gifts it’s about creating space to spend good, quality time together!
- Acts of Service
To show love through acts of service means “doing something for your partner [or friend or family member] that you know they would like, such as filling up their gas, watering their plants, or cooking them a meal.” These people feel loved when they feel they are receiving a helping hand or you go out of your way to do something for someone. Some things you could gift your service-driven loved one is through a home cooked meal, creating love coupons, or purchasing an at-home service, such as a cleaning service or at home spa service, for them! The key to this language is taking care of basic tasks but turning them into an expression of love.
- Physical Touch
While physical touch might seem self explanatory, it is a little bit more complex than just constant cuddling. The love language of physical touch means that someone may “prefer physical expressions of love over all other expressions.” While this may seem inherently intimate, there are many ways to display this love in a familial or platonic relationship. Some gifts that this language might appreciate are bond bracelets. These bracelets are worn in pairs, when one person is thinking of the other they can touch the bracelet and the other partner’s will buzz. This is great for long distance friendships or relationships. Additionally, a weighted blanket or bath bombs serve as sensory experiences to make physical touch lovers feel loved!
- Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation “is the most common love language, edging out quality time and acts of service. It also is the only love language that revolves around verbal expression.” Since this language is firmly rooted in words, it can be hard to navigate gift ideas for it. Some options for those who feel love through words of affirmation are Open When letters, jewelry engraved with a meaningful word or phrase (I love Wanderer Bracelets!), or a homemade gift based on texts or interactions. This one was inspired by a TikTok in which a woman’s partner expressed that he loved seven word phrases. She then went through their texts and made a poster of all the seven word texts they had sent each other!A final idea might be creating a Spotify playlist or book of song codes that remind you of your loved one and the reasons you love them! Find your gift recipient’s niche and use it to make a gift of your own creation.
- Gift Giving
Someone who understands love through gift giving may “‘speak’ their love through presents ranging from small tokens to special deliveries.” This language is the hardest to buy presents for because it feels like there is so much riding on what you get them! The people in my life who speak this love language are constantly showering me with random and loving presents. During the holiday season, I feel the need to repay them in the way I know they love. One way to give them something heartfelt and thoughtful is to give them a personally annotated copy of your favorite book. This would take time, thought, and effort, but that is what would truly signal your love. Not only were you thinking of them in the gift purchase but during the entire annotation process. Another method could be a monthly gift subscription, it would literally be the gift that keeps on giving! Finally, you could order them an embroidered item with their favorite band/movie/national park on it! These ideas channel someone’s favorite things into one gift.
Romantic partners aren’t the only ones who need their love tank filled! Use these ideas to inspire gifts to shower your family members, friends, and partners with a love-packed present. Happy shopping!